Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Amazon Releases "Indie For The Holidays" Playlist

Amazon has announced the availability of Indie for the Holidays, a new collection of holiday music exclusively available to stream on Prime Music and purchase on Amazon.

Prime members in the U.S., U.K., Germany, Austria and Japan have unlimited ad-free access to newly-written or recorded holiday songs from artists including YACHT, Rogue Wave, Lisa Loeb, Langhorne Slim, Tuxedo, Ivan & Alyosha, The LeeVees & Matisyahu, A Silent Film, Sondre Lerche & Jherek Bischoff and more.

Additionally, members can listen to the new collection of holiday songs via the Amazon Music app on Fire devices, Amazon Echo, iPads, iPhones and Android phones and tablets, or on the Web at, with tracks available to download for anytime, anywhere listening.

“It’s been a really fun, unique experience working with Amazon and I'm excited to be able to bring my song, ‘Winter Time’ to Amazon Prime members and fans,” stated Dia Frampton from ARCHIS. “I wrote ‘Winter Time’ while reflecting on the over-glamorized idea of summer love—it is a song about what happens after the sun sets. Will you still love me through the good and the bad? Will you still love me when the winter time comes? I'm a hopeless romantic, and this song, hopefully, will feel hopeful and warm to everyone listening on Amazon.”

“After 29 years of living in Colorado I moved away, and found that during Christmas time I miss my family the most,” stated Esmé Patterson. “The song I wrote for Indie for the Holidays really captures that essence.”

"We're thrilled to be a part of Amazon’s Indie for the Holidays playlist! We heard Elvis' version of ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ and got really inspired. Our version of the song is meant to have a touch of any typical indoor tropical Christmas party in Stockholm—we hope Amazon’s Prime members will love it,” stated Amason.

“‘Birthday Boy’ is beautiful and one of my favorite songs,” stated Anna von Hausswolff. “When Amazon gave me the opportunity to put my own spin on it this year, I couldn’t resist. I hope everyone enjoys listening to it as much as I’ve enjoyed recording it.”

Newly-written songs:

A Silent Film—“Christmas at Our House”
ARCHIS—“Winter Time”
Bhi Bhiman—“Who’s Up There?”
Esmé Patterson—“If I”
Family of the Year—“NYE”
Fruit Bats—“Christmas with You”
Ivan & Alyosha—“Being Home For Christmas”
James Apollo—“Go Trim Another Tree”
Kill Hannah—“This Is Our December”
Lisa Loeb—“Champagne (I’m Ready)”
Moon Taxi—“It’s Only Christmas”
Oscar—“It’s Christmas Again”
Reverend Horton Heat—“Donuts in the Snow”
Robert Pollard (of Guided by Voices) —“What Begins on New Year’s Day”
Rogue Wave—“Christmastime”
Sondre Lerche & Jherek Bischoff—“Surviving Christmas”
The LeeVees & Matisyahu—“Outside of December”
Turin Brakes—“New Year’s Day”
Tuxedo—“Holiday Love”
YACHT—“Christmas Alone”

New renditions of holiday favorites:

Amason—“O Little Town of Bethlehem”
Anna von Hausswolff—“Birthday Boy”
Avid Dancer—“Jingle Bells”
Born Cages—“Ave Maria”
Langhorne Slim—“Deck The Halls (With Boughs of Holly)”
SOAK–“The Christmas Waltz”
Wild Child—“Silent Night”

Throughout the season, Amazon will also be debuting official videos, including Front Row Live Holiday performances and one-on-one conversations with featured artists. More information on all the great artists on Indie for the Holidays can be found here:

For more information on Indie for the Holidays visit:

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Tony Hadley puts his stamp on Christmas tunes

Since I've seen Spandau twice live this year and interviewed Hadley in the past, I'm really looking forward to hearing this...

Tony Hadley, Spandau Ballet front man, presents his first-ever holiday release called The Christmas Album, which will be available worldwide on Nov. 20 on Verve Records.

The Christmas Album features two new songs along with some of Hadley's favorite Christmas classics. The first single from the new album, "Shake Up Christmas" will be serviced to radio stations on Nov. 20. The Christmas Album is available for pre-order on iTunes.

Produced by Claudio Guidetti, The Christmas Album is an eclectic collection of Christmas songs that include popular holiday classics. Medleys covered on the album include "I Believe In Father Christmas" by Greg Lake, "Shake Up Christmas" by Train, "Fairytale Of New York" by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl, "Lonely This Christmas" by Mud, "Driving Home For Christmas" by Chris Rea, "Run Run Rudolph" by Chuck Berry, and "I Don't Want To Spend One More Christmas Without You" by N'Sync.

The album also features "Every Second I'm Away"- written by Tony Hadley, Claudio Guidetti & Annalisa Scarrone, and "Snowing All Over The World" written by Tony Hadley.

Track Listing:

6 - FAIRYTALE OF NEW YORK (feat. Nina Zilli)

Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals set for 2016 album, world tour

Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals will follow up their 2015 reunion tour with Call It What It Is, their first new studio album in over eight years, set for release on April 8 via Stax Records.

The band also announced the initial leg of their forthcoming Call It What It Is World Tour, which kicks off April 2 in Port Chester, New York, and will take the band around the world throughout much of next year.

Every online ticket order for the tour will include a CD of Call It What It Is upon its release. Visit for information.

"Making music again with the Innocent Criminals has been a priority for a while now," Harper told Rolling Stone last year. "It was time."

Tracing their roots back to 1993, the Innocent Criminals (percussionist Leon Mobley, bassist Juan Nelson, drummer Oliver Charles, keyboardist Jason Yates and guitarist Michael Ward) were involved in most of Harper's projects before going on hiatus in 2008. The band toured the globe nonstop, earning legions of fans thanks to explosive live performances and a succession of acclaimed studio albums including Fight For Your Mind, The Will to Live, Burn to Shine, Diamonds on the Inside and the GRAMMY® nominated Lifeline, their last studio album together in 2007. The Innocent Criminals also backed Ben and The Blind Boys of Alabama on the two-time Grammy-winning collaborative album There Will Be A Light in 2004.

Tour Dates:

Feb 24 TSB Bank Arena Wellington, New Zealand
Feb 26 Vector Arena Auckland, New Zealand
Feb 27 Mission Estate Winery Napier, New Zealand
Feb 29 Horncastle Arena Christchurch, New Zealand
Mar 2 Opera House Forecourt Sydney, Australia
Mar 5 Riverstage Brisbane, Australia
Mar 8 Kings Park Perth, Australia
Mar 11 Entertainment Centre Adelaide, Australia
Mar 12 Sidney Myer Music Bowl Melbourne, Australia
Apr 2 Capitol Theater Port Chester, NY
Apr 3 9:30 Club Washington, D.C.
Apr 4 9:30 Club Washington, D.C.
Apr 7 Beacon Theater New York, NY
Apr 9 House of Blues Boston, MA
Apr 10 The Fillmore Philadelphia, PA
Apr 12 Métropolis Montréal, QC, Canada
Apr 13 Massey Hall Toronto, ON, Canada
Apr 15 Royal Oak Music Theatre Royal Oak, MI
Apr 16 Riviera Chicago, IL
Apr 17 House of Blues Cleveland, OH
Apr 19 Tivoli Theatre Chattanooga, TN
Apr 20 Tennessee Theatre Knoxville, TN
Apr 22 Ryman Auditorium Nashville, TN
Apr 23 Orange Peel Asheville, NC

Difford & Tilbrook of Squeeze concert review: Anaheim, Calif.

Over the course of a fruitful career that dates back to the mid-1970s, Squeeze has often been called Beatlesque thanks to the exquisite pop/rock songcraft of Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook.

And when the pair appeared onstage Nov. 13 at City National Grove of Anaheim, The Fab Four’s “A Day in the Life” immediately came to mind.

Injecting some theatricality into their live proceedings, the Brits woke up, got out their beds and drank cups of juice at a table before opening the 100-minute concert with debut UK top 20 single “Take Me I’m Yours,” initially clad in pajamas.

While this show wasn’t actually a musical, the duo’s first US acoustic tour in more than two decades (which launched in Orange County, Calif.) is called “The At Odds Couple: A Brand New Production.” There were even two audience Q&A segments.   

Last Friday also marked the release of a fine new Squeeze studio album, “Cradle to the Grave” on Virgin/EMI Records. It was co-produced by past collaborator Laurie Latham, whose credits include Echo & the Bunnymen, Ray Davies and The Stranglers. Eighties-era Squeeze bassist John Bentley contributes to several tracks.

The last Squeeze studio effort was 1998’s “Domino.” Difford and Tilbrook embarked on solo careers, but reunited in ’07 and did several tours before finally recording fresh material together again.

Some lyrical inspiration came from childhood friend Danny Baker, an NME writer/DJ/TV presenter. His autobiography was made into a comedy/drama miniseries (also titled “Cradle to the Grave”). It aired this past September on BBC2. Many of the new tracks were used in the film.

Half of the 23-song Anaheim set was filled with British hits from 1982 album “Singles – 45’s and Under,” the lone platinum seller by Squeeze in America. Archival band photos and articles flashed on a backdrop as the duo did a sprightly “Cool for Cats” while Tilbrook added electric sitar guitar sounds. Then he did a soulful “Black Coffee in Bed” alone at the keyboards. Fans dutifully filled in backing vocals from the record.

Although the “Cradle” tunes often feature big female-centric harmonies and orchestrations, five selections performed here still sounded great in a stripped down format. Among those, the alluring “Beautiful Game” was an early highlight; the same held true for upbeat, poppy new single “Happy Days” and buoyant “Only 15” – both rife with sharp lyrics about adolescence.

Difford (pictured left) primarily stuck to acoustic guitar and provided the occasional anecdote. Conversely, Tilbrook moved between various instruments, impressed with tasty electric guitar solos throughout the night (“Is That Love,” “Pulling Mussels from the Shell”) and basically let the music do the talking.

Both musicians took turns performing three songs from their solo releases. Difford fared best with the dark-hued “Wrecked,” a humorous “Fat as a Fiddle” and “Cowboys Are My Weakness.” Longtime fans probably would have preferred to hear more deep Squeeze cuts instead.

Still, they did get winsome takes on “Electric Trains” (off 1995’s underrated “Ridiculous”) and the romantic “Some Fantastic Place.” The first set ended with slice-of-life gem “Up the Junction.”

Standouts during the second half included a high energy “Annie Get Your Gun” and the soulful “Tempted” (where fans sang along loudly and a few danced near the stage). For the encores, Difford and Tilbrook did a strident “Another Nail for My Heart” and “Goodbye Girl.”

All told, a welcome return.
Remaining “At Odds Couple” Tour dates:

Nov. 17 Canyon Club, Agoura Hills, CA
Nov. 18-19 City Winery, Napa, CA
Nov. 20-21 Great American Music Hall, San Francisco, CA
Nov. 24-25 Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis, MN
Nov. 27-28 Park West, Chicago, IL
Nov. 29 The Ark, Ann Arbor, MI
Dec. 1-2 Beachland Ballroom, Cleveland, OH
Dec. 4 The Rex Theater, Pittsburgh, PA
Dec. 5 Scottish Rite, Collingwood, NJ
Dec. 6 Birchmere, Alexandria, VA
Dec. 7 Count Basie, Red Bank, NJ
Dec. 9 Tarrytown Music Hall, Tarrytown, NY
Dec. 10 The Wilbur, Boston, MA
Dec. 11 The Ridegefield Playhouse, Ridgefield, CT
Dec. 12 Paramount Theater, Huntington, NY
Dec. 13 Tarrytown Music Hall, Tarrytown, NY
Dec. 14 Mayo Performing Arts Center, Morristown, NJ
Dec. 16 Troy Music Hall, Troy, NY
Dec. 17-18 PlayStation Theater, New York, NY

For more info, visit

Photos by Ida Miller

My review originally appeared at

Mika's Special Edition of 'No Place In Heaven' out now

Mika just released No Place In Heaven: Special Edition [Republic Records/Casablanca Records] at all digital retailers. It’s available for purchase HERE.

The platinum-selling international pop singer expands his critically acclaimed fourth full-length—2015’s No Place In Heaven—with a bonus 14 staples performed live alongside the Symphonic Orchestra of Montreal.

Recorded at the The Orchestra Symphonique de Montreal in Montreal, QC, he adds a new dimension to fan favorites such as “Grace Kelly” and “Elle Me Dit” with accompaniment from the orchestra. 

No Place In Heaven bowed in the Top 10 of the U.S. iTunes Pop Albums Chart upon release, going Top 5 in five countries around the globe. 

Following release, he performed new music on Good Morning America’s annual Summer Concert Series. Online, the music video for the single “Talk About You” racked up over 3.4 million YouTube/VEVO views.

He also paid homage to Queen singer Freddie Mercury with the cinematic “Last Party” video directed by renowned fashion photographer Peter Lindbergh, which would receive over 2.1 million views. In addition to snapping the album cover photo, this was Lindbergh’s very first collaboration with a music artist. Recently, Mika has enjoyed high-profile syncs in both Pitch Perfect 2 and Spy.

Outside of music, his influence continues to expand worldwide. MIKA has been a judge on the X Factor Italy and a coach on The Voice France after topping the charts in France with the release “Boum Boum Boum.” He’s also been tapped by watch innovator, Swatch, as a creative ambassador creating striking designs for the line. In addition, he’s collaborated with Italian fashion leader, Valentino, architecting custom suits with the creative directors for his European tour and television appearances.

Special Edition Tracklisting:

Talk About You
Good Guys
L'Amour Fait Ce Qu’il Veut
All She Wants
Last Party
Les Baisers Perdus
No Place In Heaven
Staring At The Sun
Boum Boum Boum
Good Wife
J’ai Pas Envie
Oh Girl, you’re the devil
Ordinary Man
Je Chante
Hurts - Remix
Beautiful Disaster
Feels Like Love

Bonus Orchestral Track listing:

Toy Boy
Grace Kelly
Boum Boum Boum
Relax (Take It Easy)
Last Party
Origin Of Love
Happy Ending
Over My Shoulder
Good Guys
Any Other World
Love Today
Elle Me Dit

NAMM 2016 News: Education Sessions; She Rocks Awards

During the 2016 NAMM Show, NAMM members will have access to more than 120 free educational sessions designed to turn tips into substantial growth.

NAMM unveils a fresh lineup of educational sessions that will support many facets of the music product industry from in-store and online retail to manufacturers, pro audio and technology. NAMM U’s Retail Boot Camp, NAMM U Breakfast Sessions and the NAMM Idea Center, along with TEC Tracks, offer game-changing ideas for music industry professionals and businesses of all sizes in Anaheim, CA from January 21-24, 2016.

“New technology has changed the way every NAMM member business is run today,” said Joe Lamond, president and CEO of NAMM. “This January NAMM U’s line up will provide new ideas to make technology work in your favor by creating new opportunities for the future. Many members tell us that what they learn by attending these free NAMM U sessions has a huge positive impact on their success and makes coming to the NAMM Show a great investment.”

The day before the 2016 NAMM Show officially starts, NAMM members can immerse in a full day of learning at NAMM’s Retail Boot Camp – discovering new ideas about how to sell to the socially connected consumer.

This one-day training will also help retailers understand future trends in online marketing, best practices for rental programs, and the most efficient techniques to manage store inventory. NAMM’s Retail Boot Camp will be held on Wednesday, January 20 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Anaheim Hilton’s California Ballroom. Afterwards, a special two-hour Technology Boot Camp and reception looks at practical tools for making retail businesses more profitable, efficient and visible. Both events are free to all NAMM members and their employees.

NAMM U Breakfast Sessions will hone in on game-changing strategies that members can apply instantly. On the opening morning of the show, NAMM President and CEO Joe Lamond will host Breakfast of Champions, featuring influential music-product leaders and big-name artists discussing the state of the industry and where it’s going.

On Friday, New York Times best-selling author and jazz guitarist Josh Linkner will deliver practical ways to instantly turn ambitious ideas into big business results. During Saturday’s Breakfast Session “Hug Your Haters: Customer Service in the Digital Age,” digital business expert, technology advisor and marketing guru Jay Baer shares awesome opportunities for customer service wins in the modern era. Start each day at the NAMM Show with big ideas, inspiration and a free breakfast beginning at 8 a.m. in the Anaheim Hilton’s Pacific Ballroom.

The NAMM Idea Center will present more than 45 forward-thinking professional development sessions with many focused on boosting a retailer’s online and brick-and-mortar presence through more effective websites and digital marketing.

Each 30-minute session will be held in the Idea Center’s new lobby location that offers more room to comfortably learn and network. These peer-to-peer sessions will tackle some of the best ways to attract customers through Google, YouTube, Instagram and mobile-friendly websites. Some highlights include the social media platforms that retailers can focus on to grow their customer base and the 10 best ways to raise profits through eBay and

TEC Tracks will make its debut in Anaheim this year, featuring more than 70 pro audio and music technology master classes, live interviews and panel discussions. Legendary producers Eddie Kramer and Tony Brown will keynote sessions. For the artist, there will be a session about how to maximize crowd-funding websites such as IndieGoGo, GoFundMe and KickStarter. TEC Tracks has also partnered with A3E (Advanced Audio + Applications Exchange) to offer six educational sessions focused on the future of audio. TEC Tracks replaces The H.O.T Zone on the second floor of the Anaheim Convention Center.

NAMM will team up with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to offer hands-on training on a variety of intellectual property issues. NAMM members can learn more about the patenting process, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets during a one-hour roundtable discussion in the NAMM Member Center on Thursday, January 21 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

NAMM U schedule:
TEC Tracks schedule:

Check out the complete lineup of professional development sessions for music professionals at the 2016 NAMM Show. NAMM members are encouraged to register for badges by January 6, 2016 – at which point, badge registrations will incur a $50 to $100 fee, depending on badge type. Limited exhibit space is also still available.

In other NAMM news:
The Women’s International Music Network (the WiMN) has announced the 2016 She Rocks Awards honorees. Paying tribute to women in the music industry, the 2016 She Rocks Awards at the NAMM show will take place on Friday, January 22 at 7 p.m. at the Anaheim Hilton Hotel in Anaheim, Calif. Tickets are available for purchase at

Hosted by the WiMN founder Laura B. Whitmore, the 2016 She Rocks Awards recipients include:

Jennifer Batten, guitarist
Amy Heidemann of the duo Karmin
Mindy Seegal Abovitz, drummer/founder of Tom Tom Magazine
Cathy Carter Duncan, co-founder/CEO of Seymour Duncan
Becky Gebhardt and Mona Tavakoli, co-founders of the Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls L.A. and members of Raining Jane
Leslie Ann Jones, Director of Recording and Scoring at Skywalker Sound
Mary Luehrsen, Executive Director of the NAMM Foundation
Sujata Murthy, Senior Vice President, Public Relations, Universal Music Enterprises
Leigh Maples and Pamela Cole, founders of Fanny’s House of Music
Crystal Morris, co-founder and President of Gator Cases
Chalise Zolezzi, Director of Brand Communications at Taylor Guitars

Additional recipients will be announced in the coming weeks.

Gearing up for its fourth consecutive year, the She Rocks Awards pays tribute to women who display leadership and stand out within the music industry, and has become a standard at the NAMM Show. Previous award recipients include female industry leaders such as Colbie Caillat, Sheila E, The Bangles, Orianthi, Mindi Abair, Dinah Gretsch, Craigie Zildjian, Janie L. Hendrix, Amani Duncan, Mary Peavey, and many more.

With featured performances, food and beverages, giveaways, a silent auction, networking opportunities and more, the She Rocks Awards brings together industry professionals, music icons, artists, fans, and media to celebrate women in music. A portion of the proceeds from the event will benefit the Girls Rock Camp Alliance and the NAMM Foundation.

This event has sold out for the past three years and does not require a NAMM badge to attend. The She Rocks Awards will take place on Friday, January 22 at 7 p.m. in the Pacific Ballroom at the Anaheim Hilton Hotel.

Tickets are on sale now at

The 2016 She Rocks Awards is sponsored by Martin Guitar, Seymour Duncan, Roland, Boss, Gretsch, Guitar Center, Fishman, 108 Rock Star Guitars, with additional support from these media partners Tom Tom Magazine, Guitar Girl Magazine,, Guitar World, Guitar Player, Keyboard, Bass Player, Electronic Musician, and more. For information regarding She Rocks Awards sponsorship opportunities, please contact

To purchase tickets, and to learn more about the award recipients and the 2016 She Rocks Awards, visit

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Lucinda Williams arrrives with new material in February

Three-time Grammy Award winner Lucinda Williams returns on Feb. 5 with The Ghosts of Highway 20 (Highway 20/Thirty Tigers).

After 11 highly acclaimed studio albums, Williams is in the most prolific period of her nearly four-decade career, as she continues to challenge herself creatively. The Ghosts of Highway 20 finds Williams exploring new territory personally, sonically and vocally like never before.

The Ghosts of Highway 20 is unlike any other Lucinda Williams album prior. There is a common thread running through the songs, uniting them under one collective theme as the haunting title track illustrates.

Most of the 14 songs were inspired by various periods and experiences throughout Williams’ life that all tie into Highway 20 (aka Interstate 20), which runs in part from Georgia to Texas, the focal region of the album.

Whether it is cities she has resided in (Atlanta, GA, Macon, GA), has family ties to (Shreveport, LA, Monroe, LA) or previously written about (Jackson, LA, Vicksburg, MS), Williams’ personal experiences and connections to these areas inform the narratives. However, this is not an album about geographic locations, but songs and stories inspired by people, place and time.

The Ghosts of Highway 20 features some of the most expansive and experimental arrangements Williams has ever recorded, as heard on the epic “Dust”, the chilling “If My Love Could Kill” and “House of Earth”, a lost Woody Guthrie song Williams wrote the music to.

Guitarists Bill Frisell and Greg Leisz contribute as Williams offers up jazz-styled phrasing on “I Know All About It” and the extensive improvisational track “Faith & Grace”. Williams puts her signature on a new interpretation of Bruce Springsteen’s “Factory”, and melts into the absolutely stunning “Louisiana Story” and “Place In My Heart”.

The Ghosts of Highway 20 was co-produced by Williams, Leisz and Tom Overby and recorded with Williams’ ace rhythm section of Butch Norton (drums) and David Sutton (bass). Guitarist Val McCallum guests on two tracks.